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Southern Premier League

Banbury United

McKay (6)

Hednesford Town

(1) 1

(0) 0



Current Form

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Richard Teesdale



Bath City (A) 11.9.04

The Pitmen are brought back down to earth tonight as their unbeaten run in the Southern Premier League is brought to a halt by lowly Banbury United as the hosts score early on and hang on to claim an important three points

Saturday's impressive win over the much-fancied Histon had moved the Pitmen into the top eight for the first time this season in the process and extended their unbeaten run to five games. Player/manager Chris Brindley resisted the temptation to make any changes and named the same XI for tonight's trip to Oxfordshire

Banbury returned to the Spencer Stadium after suffering a 1-0 defeat at King's Lynn at the weekend, leaving the Puritans down in twentieth place in the table after a run of only one win from their first seven games. Player/manager Kevin Brock made one change to the side that had been defeated at the Walks as Chris Potter returned to the side in place of Jason Allen as he looked for a response from a side that had only won one game so far this season

United appeared to be up for the game straight from the kick-off as they pressed high and pushed the visitors back into their half. In the very first minute of the game, Potter's through ball found former Birmingham City man Howard Fonrinton, whose first-time shot was bravely saved by the face of the onrushing Ryan Young, who came out to meet the striker twelve yards from goal

Potter headed wide for the hosts two minutes later as a George Redknap free-kick found the defender lurking at the far post to reach the lofted ball in from the right

The Pitmen failed to heed these early warnings and fell behind in the sixth minute; Forinton's curling pass found Redknap once more on the right, with the forward floating in a fine ball to the far post where Jody McKay was on hand to head the ball beyond the reach of Young from close-range and into the far corner of the net

The Pitmen were struggling to get a foothold in the game and nearly fell two goals behind in the ninth minute as Forinton drilled a low shot wide of goal after Ollie Stanbridge had played him in behind Richard Teesdale

Forinton could have snatched a second for the Puritans in the twelfth minute but somehow headed a Redknap cross agonisingly wide of Young's left-hand post from just six yards out

The Pitmen finally got their first shot of the evening on target in the sixteenth minute as Leon McSweeney picked up Anthony Maguire's pass and unleashed a shot from twenty-five yards out that was easily saved by Banbury stopper Simon Tricker

On twenty minutes, Redknap tricked his way into the penalty area with a mazy run that saw him cut inside and past Craig Dean's challenge, only to attempt an ambitious curling shot that drifted wide of Young's far post

Three minutes later, Potter's header was deflected behind by Lee Barrow for a Banbury corner kick after Stanbridge's lofted free-kick was met by the Banbury number four from eight yards out

Young tipped another dipping effort from Andy Wallbridge over the crossbar on twenty-eight minutes to be sure as the ball threatened to dip into the far corner of the goalkeeper's net

At the other end, Tricker was alert to the danger posed by in-form Andy Bell on the half-hour mark, making a smart save to turn the young striker's cheeky lob from twenty yards out away for a corner kick to the Pitmen

Goalscorer McKay went close to doubling his tally for the evening on thirty-three minutes as he tried his luck with an angled drive after cutting inside from the left but found Young in a good position to make the save at his near post

Teesdale's deft flick towards goal from a Maguire corner kick on thirty-eight minutes almost caught the home side out as their defence was caught ball watching

A minute before the end of the first half, the Pitmen went agonisingly close to equalising as an inswinging Lee Williams free-kick was headed goalwards by Barrow, whose effort beat Tricker but was cleared off the line by Wallbridge's timely hack away from goal

It had been a largely poor half from the Pitmen, who had looked an unconvincing outfit that were showing none of the good recent form that had lifted them up into the top ten in the past week

Teesdale - the pick of the men in sky blue over the ninety minutes - had a great chance to level matters just four minutes after the restart as a Williams corner was met full-on by the big centre-back, whose soaring header was headed off the line by Redknap

Banbury were riding their luck from corner kicks and Teesdale was denied again three minutes later as his flick-on at the near post was booted clear by the alert presence of Wallbridge

Bell and McSweeney linked up well just outside the Banbury penalty area on fifty-seven minutes to set Maguire on his way down the left. The youngster spotted Chris Gray's late run into the box and looked to pick him out, only for the winger to miss the cross by a matter of inches as he stretched to reach the cross

Before the game could restart, the Pitmen made their first substitution of the evening as Damien Charie came on in place of Williams; this saw Maguire move back into midfield to compensate for this shift in personnel for the away side

On the hour mark, Tricker was on hand to push a Matt Turner free-kick around his post as the midfield man lifted his shot over the Banbury wall from the left-hand side of the penalty area

From the resultant corner kick, Barrow's flick at the near post was not taken advantage of by any Hednesford players as they failed to gamble inside the six-yard box

Bell was given a sight at goal three minutes later as he was played through by Gray's angled pass, only for Kieran Sullivan to come across and narrow the angle for the striker, which saw him strike a weak shot straight into the arms of Tricker

Turner had struggled to get into the game thus far but had the Pitmen's next effort at goal on sixty-seven minutes as his bobbling effort from twenty-five yards was fielded by Tricker

Craig Dean entered the referee's notebook a minute later as he hauled down Redknap on the Banbury right to prevent the wide midfielder from getting away down the flank

At the other end, Forinton did well to win a free-kick for the under-pressure hosts on seventy-one minutes, which Redknap played into the penalty area. The ball was partially cleared as far as Stanbridge, who played the ball into the feet of Potter. His quick turn and shot from fifteen yards out lacked power however and was easily saved by Young

More last-ditch defending, this time from Potter, denied the Pitmen their deserved leveller with fifteen minutes remaining as he blocked Bell's close-range shot on the line before Tricker landed on the rebound

With time starting to run out for the visitors, McSweeney was denied twice in quick succession by Tricker as he firstly drove a rising shot into the hand of the stopper on seventy-six minutes, followed a minute later with a scuffed right-footed shot from ten yards out that was easily claimed by the stopper after Gray had set him up

To add extra height and presence to the Pitmen's forward line, player/manager Brindley brought himself on as an auxiliary centre-forward with eleven minutes left as Maguire made way for the veteran defender

This saw the Pitmen go direct in their approach in the final ten minutes, pumping the ball into the Banbury box in search of Brindley at every opportunity. An up and under from Ross Adams on eighty-three minutes was headed downwards by the substitute and into the path of Bell, only the ball to be smuggled away by the Banbury defence

Bell tried his luck with a long-range shot two minutes later, striking the ball with the outside of this boot but failed to effectively test Tricker with his wayward effort

The Pitmen's luckless evening was perhaps summed up with three minutes remaining as Craig Dean was shown a second yellow card for pushing Stanbridge after the midfielder had kicked the ball away to prevent the visitors from taking a free-kick. Dean was sent off but Stanbridge somehow escaped punishment for his part in the piece

The ten men continued to press and forced three successive corners in the second minute of added time, with Brindley heading high over the crossbar from Gray's final cross into the box

Banbury held on for a huge morale-boosting win that lifted them away from the drop zone in the process. The Pitmen drop three places to eleventh place in the table as they see their recent good run of form ended, despite having a host of good chances to take at least a point from tonight's clash. They will get the chance to return to winning ways on Saturday when they are on the road again as they travel to former Conference rivals Bath City, who sit just above them in the Southern League table

Banbury United: Tricker, Fuller, Blossom, Sullivan, Potter (Jackson 67), Eldridge, Stanbridge, Wallbridge, Forinton, Redknap, McKay      Subs Unused: Allen, O`Neill, Brandish

Hednesford Town: Young, Adams, Dean  ▆ (87), Barrow ©, Teesdale, Williams (Charie 57), Maguire (Brindley 79), Turner, Gray, Bell, McSweeney    Subs Unused: Evans, Beckett, Branch

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